ADI SHANKARACHARYA COMMENTARY ON THE SHLOKA ABOVE
As Brahman wit maya (*) or the unmanifested potentia-
lity is subtle in point of time, as He is the Cause (see t), as He
is eternal, as He is great, .He is spoken of as the one above.
·rhe One above is the root of this Tree of Samsara, which is
therefore said to have i~s root above. The Sruti says :
"With roots above and branches below., this Asvattha. is
eternal.'' (Katha-Up. 3-2-1).
In the Purana also it is said :
" The root from which the Eternal Tree of Brahman ~
has sprung is· the Avyakta, the Unmanifested. It has
de·vel oped by the strength of the same (A vyakta). Its trunk
is Buddhi, the sense-apertures Its hollows, the great elements
Its boughs, the sense--objects Its leaves and branches, dharma
and a-dharma Its fair blossoms, pleasure and pain Its fruits
affording livelihood to all creatures. And this is the resort §
of Brahman (the Highest Self), and that Highest Self is (the
essence) of that Tree of Brahman. Having cut asunder and
split the Tree with the mighty sword of knowledge II and
then attained to the Bliss of the Self, none comes back from
* Brahman who is Kutastha (immutable) cannot by Himself be the
t This is to shew how Brahman is " subtle in point of time.'"
Brahman is the Cause because He is . _the invariable antecedent of all
t i,e., the Tree occupied, presided over. led, governed, guided, by
Brahman. It. is said to be eternal because it cant1ot be cut ·except 'by
" It is in this Tree of samsara that Brahman abides.-This portion is interpreted to mean '\Brabmanjs the resort of this Tree of samsara :
for this infinite universe bas its basis in Brahman and in nothing else.
It Is indeed Brahman Himself that, owing to· av:idya, manifests Himsel
in the form of this universe.-A. ·
II The knowledge ·• I am Brahman;"-A.
They speak of the illusory samsara as a tr~e rooted above.
·The Mahat, the Abamkara (Egoism), the Tanmatras (the
Elemental Essences), etc., are its branches as it were, and
these extend downwards ; whence the tree is said to have its
branches below. They call' this tree 'Asvattha' because it
wiU 171ot abide the same even till tomorrow, because it
undergoes destruction every moment. The illusion (Maya)
·of samsara having existed in time without beginning, they
· say that this Tree of samsara is eternal ; for, it rests, as is
well known,. on a continuous series of births which is without
·beginning or .end and is thus eternal. The Tree of Samsara
is further qualified thus: The metres (chhandases) are its
leaves as it wer~; they are so called because, like leaves, the
metres (Vedas) such as Rik, Yajus and Sam an protect' (' chai/,'
to cover) the Tree of ·samsara. Just as the leaves of a tree
serve to protect the tree, so do the Vedas* serve'to protect
·the Tree of Samsara, as treating of dharma (merit) and
a-dharma (demerit), with their causes and fruits. He wbo
knows.the Tree of Samsara and its· Root as described above
is a knower of the reaching of the Vedas. Indeed nothing
·else, not even an iota, remains to be known beyond this Tree
of Samsara and its Root. He who knows It is therefore
omniscient.-This is· to extol the knowledge of the Tree of
Samsara and its Root.